Proposal would boost Coupeville schools

If the governor’s proposal becomes a reality, the Coupeville School District could receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra funding next year.

Gov. Chris Gregoire is asking the Legislature to temporarily lift the levy lid for local school districts. That would bring in an additional $68 million to the 75 school districts in the state that qualify.

“This is money voters have already approved, but can’t be collected because it exceeds the levy limit,” Gregoire said in a written statement. “Allowing districts to access the funding their voters have already authorized will help many districts to keep programs intact.”

Generally, the maximum amount in levy dollars a school district can collect is 24 percent of the state revenue it receives. If the amount approved by the voters exceeds that threshold, then the school districts roll back the levy and do not collect the extra money.

For the Coupeville School District, it could bring in an additional $217,000 in 2010.

“It would be really helpful,” Superintendent Patty Page said, though she has mixed feelings about the funding boost.

While it would improve the school district’s budget situation, she doesn’t feel taxpayers in the affected school districts should bear a greater tax burden. Eliminating the levy lid would put a disproportionate tax share on residents in those districts.

“It’s the state’s responsibility to make up the majority of our funding,” Page said.

Enrollment decline and potential state funding cuts have school officials bracing for a possible $650,000 reduction to an approximately $10 million budget. Page described that amount as a worst case scenario. Numbers are likely to change when the school district receives information from the state.

She hopes to have information ready in time for the April 20 school board meeting.

The South Whidbey School District would receive an additional $15,000 and the Stanwood/Camano Island School District would receive an additional $50,000.

The Oak Harbor School District’s levy accounts for only 6 percent of its levy authority, far below the 24 percent maximum allowed by state law.

“We’re nowhere close to our maximum levy capacity,” Oak Harbor School District spokesperson Joe Hunt said.

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